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5 Surprises Cruising Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast

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Largely undeveloped, unpopulated, and one of the least-spoiled marine environments in the world, the Kimberley region is on every Australian’s bucket list but still unheard of to Americans. Thea Klapwald shares five surprises she encountered

The Kimberley is known for its remoteness, vast distances, geological antiquity, and tidal variations. It is a land mostly accessible by small aircraft or boat, but I opted for a different, and more relaxing experience.

I traveled the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia on the Orion cruise for 10 days from the port cities of Broome to Darwin. The Orion is an Australian-owned company founded by Sarina Bratton. Bratton and Friend are proud of the Kimberley itinerary. It is their signature trip and sails from mid-April to mid-September which is the winter, dry season.

Cruising on the Orion, the staff makes the experience. On my voyage, Ship’s Hotel Manager Steve Weber jokingly requested that one guest jump overboard to maintain the one-to-one ratio of crew (76) to guests (77). I knew I really was in for something special when Justin Friend, Orion Expedition Program Manager, started telling me anecdotes about his time on “The Kimberley.” Justin and the crew share a boundless enthusiasm for the region. I was quick to catch Kimberley fever.

Discover Pearls in Broome

Credi Wikimedia User Kat Clay from Sydney, Australia

Broome is a quaint city to begin any journey. The historic town is the grandfather of the cultivated pearling industry, and is lined with upscale pearl shops and tempting baubles.

Broome’s Cable Beach stuns you with its unrepentant beauty. Camels, imported over a century ago to combat transportation problems trot politely along the beach for the amusement of tourists.

Once the Orion is at sea, leaving Roebuck Harbor and the busyness of Broome behind, what strikes you most along The Kimberley is that no one is there! It is rare to see another ship even in the busy season.

The Kimberley is rugged, unsentimental terrain settled by bush adventurers who were considered both hardy and foolhardy.  Its landscape is the backdrop for Baz Luhrman’s operatic film “Australia,” and is as iconic for Australians as the Grand Canyon is for Americans.